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C-diff; Bad Bug Coming to a Hospital Near You

Posted May 03 2010 12:00am
This photograph depicts Clostridium difficile ...
Image via Wikipedia

I found this article to be of a great deal of interest, as I am currently editing the new edition of In this edition we are devoting an entire chapter to hospital acquired infections or noscomomial infection.

Many of us have some grasp of what (methocillin resistant staph aureus) is, either from personal or a family member’s experience, the media, or even from warnings in the gym to disinfect the equipment to alleviate the incidents of this infection.  But the “bad bug” that hasn’t yet gotten much attention is C-diff or Clostridium difficile .

This infection sickens about a half million Americans every year, and every year the epidemic gets about 10% bigger, according to CDC medical epidemiologist L. Clifford McDonald, MD.

Bigger and more deadly. The death rate is soaring by 35% a year.

From 1999 to 2004, the bug became four times more lethal, with death rates increasing from 5.7 per million Americans to 23.7 per million Americans in 2004.

C. diff bacteria are very sensitive to oxygen. But C. diff spores are another matter. They are nearly indestructible and can survive for months on dry surfaces. The CDC recommends disinfecting surfaces with bleach, because the usual hospital disinfectants don’t affect it.

People with C. diff infection have millions of C. diff spores in their feces. These spores carry the infection to others via what experts indelicately call fecal-oral contact. Careful hand washing rinses the spores from contaminated hands, but alcohol gels won’t do the trick.

Two things have to happen for you to get C. diff disease:

* You have to ingest C. diff spores.

* Something has to disturb the ecological balance of the normal bacteria living in your colon.  Usually the ecological disturbance is a result of taking broad-spectrum antibiotics over a period of time.

Because C-diff is very preventable, the Joint Commission is in the process to cut reimbursements for hospital acquired infections.

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